Kozhikode: A mega rail project which connects Kasargod and Thiruvananthapuram — divided by 600 km — has divided Kerala’s ruling and opposition parties, amid stinging criticism by ‘Metroman’ E. Sreedharan.
Preliminary work on the Rs 1.25 lakh crore K-Rail Corporation, whose official name is Silverline Semi High-Speed Rail Corridor project, has got going.
The project envisages linking the northern and southern ends of the state by a rail corridor to be covered in four hours.
The project will, however, displace over 25,000 people and demand the acquisition of hundreds of acres of land besides causing what Sreedharan says will be irrevocable environmental damage.
The Congress, leading the opposition UDF, has been struggling to explain the reason why their MP Shashi Tharoor refused to sign a memorandum by Kerala MPs from UDF submitted to the Railway Minister denouncing the project.
The ruling LDF suffered a setback on Thursday after CPI MP Binoy Viswam distanced himself from the LDF contingent which met the Railway Minister to lobby for K-Rail.
Though opposition leader V D Satheesan said on Thursday that the party will look into non-signing by Tharoor, Congress leader Ramesh Chennithala seconded the views of Tharoor.
A section of the CPI has voiced displeasure over the project through its Kerala state secretary Kanam Rajam has been reiterating the party’s support for the project.
Sreedharan, the architect of the Delhi and Kochi Metro and Konkan Railway, has pointed out several discrepancies in the project. He called the project technically defective and environmentally damaging.
Reacting to criticism that the tracks should be broad gauge instead of the proposed standard gauge, the K-Rail Corporation authorities clarified that the tracks were made standard to avail loan from international agencies.
Earlier, a former engineer with the Indian Railway, Alok Kumar Varma, who was associated with the preliminary feasibility report of K-Rail, recently come out with serious charges against the project saying it is completely manipulated.
The corporation has not reacted to other accusations. Sreedharan pointed out that more than 300 km of the proposed rail track is proposed through paddy fields.
The UDF is preparing to launch a series of agitations against the project. The LDF is actively campaigning for the project.